Independent travel in Iran: 1 to 4-week itinerary

By Joan Torres 8 Comments Last updated on April 1, 2024

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Iran, the hottest destination of the decade, is a country filled with a very old history, mind-blowing architecture and amazing people.

The country is, however, extremely big, has been inhabited for millennia and was ruled by one of the most powerful empires that ever existed in human history.

As a consequence, Iran is, today, an extremely complex society home to an infinite number of historical sites, many of which are not open to the public yet.

And there is even more.

With some striking mountain ranges, the Persian Gulf islands, unique deserts and countless towns and cities with different kinds of people and culture, Iran is a country which you can’t finish, not in a lifetime at least.

However, whether you come here for a week or a month, getting a glimpse of the great power of the Persian empire or getting to know some locals over a cup of local chai is totally possible.

After visiting the country twice for more than months, I have compiled this 1 to 4-week itinerary for independent travel to Iran that contains my favorite places in the country.

It took me almost two months to visit all the places I mention, spending 4 to 5 days on each one, which is a lot of days. However, if you plan well-ahead and stay 2 or 3 days in each one, you could perfectly squeeze my Iran itinerary in a month.

Independent travel to Iran

How to book hotels, flights and tours in Iran

Because of the sanctions, foreign cards or popular sites such as can’t be used in Iran, but now you can thanks to 1stQuest.

1stQuest is a local company that offers services such as visa LOI, hotel booking, tours, domestic flights, and travel insurance for Iran.

5% discount on ALL bookings with voucher code:


How to travel independently around Iran (Transportation)

Iran is an extremely easy country to move around, as it has a very well-connected bus network and plenty of domestic flights.

Domestic flights

Iran is a pretty big country, so for those short in time, taking a domestic flight would be wise, especially for going from Tehran to places like Qeshm Island, Mashhad or Shiraz. 

You can check flight schedules and book your tickets through 1stQuest, and you can get a 5% discount on ALL flights:

With voucher code: ATC-QST

Bus – Buses are the way to go in Iran. There are endless connections and the VIP buses are particularly comfortable and not expensive at all.

Because of the sanctions, in Iran, most booking sites don’t accept international foreign cards. Before, you could book them via 1stQuest but they are not offering this particular service anymore. However, you may still use 1stQuest for visa services, hotels, flights, travel insurance and tours. 

The desert of the Kaluts

Accommodation in Iran

As you may know, popular websites such as, don’t have hotels listed in Iran.

Therefore, how can you book a hotel in Iran? Well, you have a couple of options:

  1. Via your travel agency (if you go on a tour)
  2. Making a phone call
  3. Just showing up and trying your luck
  4. Via a local booking website like 1stQuest

From luxury hotels to backpacker hostels, 1stQuest has many listed hotels all over the country. 

You can get a 5% discount in ALL your hotels bookings.

Use my promotional code: ATC-QST

Side note – Keep in mind that the Iranian Government sometimes blocks this sort of travel websites, so 1stQuest may not be accessible from an Iranian server. In this case, there are 2 things you can do:
1 – Book the different hotels in advance, before going to Iran
2 – Get a VPN for Iran like ExpressVPN to access censored sites.

Best books for backpacking in Iran

Here’s a selection of a few useful books but, for a complete list, check the best books about Iran, classified into politics, history and novels

Bradt guide – Bradt has always the most comprehensive guides to the most off-beat countries. I love Bradt because they give plenty of tips for the independent traveler, as well as loads of cultural insights.

Lonely Planet guide – I personally prefer Bradt but, if you are a Lonely Planet fan, they have just released their latest edition for Iran.

Best graphic novel – Persepolis – This is, perhaps, the most famous story ever written about Iran. It is the story of a non-religious woman, before and after the 1979 revolution. An easy way to understand the complexity of Iranian society.

Independent travel in Iran – 1-week Iran itinerary

Iran is a massive piece of land so, if you only have one week, after Tehran, the closest cities are Kashan and Esfahan.

In Iran, you have to pay to enter most sites, including all the mosques, gardens and museums I am suggesting in this article. Usually, most sites charge between 150,000 and 200,000IR, which is 5 to 10 times more than what the locals have to pay

Map of the one-week Iran travel itinerary

Day 1 – Tehran

The capital of Iran is a real chaotic metropolis, where you can find an extremely mixed society, both the traditional, conservative Iran and the most hipster people in the country.

From ancient bazaars to 21st-century malls, Tehran is a very surprising city that could you keep busy for several weeks. This mixed society reminded me a lot to Beirut.

If you are lucky and the sky is clear, you must go to Tabi’at Bridge, the place from where you get the best views of the Tehran skyline.

Also don’t forget to check out the Grand Bazaar of Tehran, a real maze of bustling streets and carpet shops, and Golestan Palace, located in the middle of the city jungle but where you find beautiful gardens and the classic, colorful Persian tiles Iran is famous for.

A lot of people who visit Iran also go to Caucasian countries. Read my ultimate guide for traveling to Georgia

Moreover, if you are into politics, don’t forget to check out what used to be the actual USA Embassy before the 1979 revolution, as today it is a museum with plenty of anti-American propaganda.

Last, if you wanna take a break from all the chaos, go to Darband, located at the bottom of Mount Tochal and almost reachable by metro. With plenty of waterfalls and small day-treks, this was my favorite spot in the city.

For more information, read: Things to do in Tehran in 2 days

Tehran Grand Bazaar
A carpet seller in the Tehran Grand Bazaar

The best tours in Tehran

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Where to stay in Tehran

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Backpacker Hostel – Heritage Hostel – Plenty of common areas, a beautiful garden with a Persian pool, a barbecue place, and very modern facilities. I honestly think that this is the best hostel in the country and the best choice for independent travelers in Iran.

Budget Hotel – Khayyam Hotel – A cheap option, but very good, option near the Grand Bazaar of Tehran, so this is a great choice for budget travelers that don’t want to stay in a hostel.

A bit nicer – Hejab Hotel – A good option for mid-range travelers.

For more options, check Best areas to stay in Tehran.

Getting out of Tehran

Since this is the capital, you can come and go by public transportation from anywhere in the country.

Against the Compass tip – In order to save time, some independent travelers book a one-way ticket to either Shiraz, Yazd or Esfahan and visit all the cities on their way back.

Golestan Palace
The colorful tiles from Golestan Palace

Day 3, 4 – Kashan

Kashan isn’t the greatest of all the Persian cities but its privileged location makes it very convenient for any Iran itinerary.

This also means that tour groups abound but this shouldn’t put you off because I can’t deny that it is actually pretty and, if you don’t have the time to visit Yazd, Kashan also has the famous wind towers and windy mud-brick alleys.

Besides the classic bazaar, where you can check out the textiles Kashan is popular for, don’t forget to visit Khan Amin al-Dowleh Timche, a mosque with one of the craziest dome ceilings; the traditional Persian Fin Gardens and the unique Agha Bozorg, a big mosque whose wall colors are confused with the houses from the old city.

For more information, read: Things to do in Kashan

Against the Compass tip – If you want a more off the beaten track option, Qom is a better alternative to Kashan. I personally didn’t go there but it is a very holy city with some amazing shrines and the location is also very convenient the 1-week Iran itinerary.

Agha Bozorg – Photo by Fulvio Spada

Best day trips from Kashan

To be very honest, Kashan isn’t my favorite place but I have to say that this is a good base for doing a few great day trips:

You can visit both on a combined tour.

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Where to stay in Kashan

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Budget Hostel – Sana Historical Hostel With both private rooms and dorms and located right in the old town, Sana is the most popular choice for independent travelers. 

Budget Traditional House – Kamal-a Molk House – A beautiful, and very cheap, traditional guest house in the heart of Kashan.

Mid-range – Mahinestan Raheb – A few hundred-year-old house which has been beautifully restored into a beautiful hotel, very comfortable and lovely.

For more options, here you can see all the available hotels in Kashan

How to get to Kashan from Tehran

It’s very easy. Buses run regularly and it is only a 3-hour journey. You can also go by train but it takes 1 or 2 additional hours.

Some Tahchin I had in Kashan

Day 5, 6 – Esfahan

Tip – If you have more than a week, consider staying in Esfahan for at least 3 or 4 days.

Esfahan is Iran’s most amazing city and its mosques are one of the main reasons independent travelers come to Iran.

With hundreds of years of history, Esfahan has always been home to a very important community of intellectuals and scholars and, historically, its importance was often compared to Athens or Rome.

Today, according to Iranian standards, this is a pretty modern city, very clean, composed of perfectly tree-lined streets, which makes it very pleasant to walk around.

The first place you need to go is Imam Square, where you find both the Shah Mosque and Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque, whose ceilings and domes will leave you breathless.

Imam Square is also a place where locals hang out, especially during late afternoon and evening, so I recommend you not to rush and stay there for a while.

During the day, I suggest you stroll down the old bazaar, one of the nicest in the country, with plenty of spices and the worldwide famous creepy mannequins.

In the evening, a good idea is to head to the river to see the different historical bridges, the most famous being Si-o-seh Pol. However, the last time I was there in April 2018, the river was completely dry, which made me very sad.

Oh! By the way, Esfahan is also famous for some sweets called gaz, which are filled with walnuts and have a gummy texture. Also, don’t forget to look for the local biryani (which is quite different from Indian and Pakistani) and saffron ice-cream.

Iran itinerary 1 week
Imam Square – Iran itinerary 1 week

Where to stay in Esfahan

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Budget Hostel – Ragrud Hostel – A brand-new hostel with very modern facilities, awesome staff and the best reviews ever. I am sure this place will, very soon, become very popular in Esfahan. 

Budget traditional house – Sarayeh Orbidehesht – If you prefer a traditional guest house, this one is really great.

Mid-Range Hotel – Setareh – Traditional breakfast, super friendly and English-speaking staff and very close to the main attractions.  

For more options: Click here to see all the available hotels in Esfahan 

How to get to Esfahan from Kashan

There are several buses all day long and it is just a 3-hour trip.

Iran itinerary 3 weeks
Si-o-Seh Pol, without water – Iran itinerary 3 weeks

Independent travel to Iran – 2-week Iran itinerary

Most people would have two weeks for traveling independently in Iran.

If you want to save time, consider flying from Tehran to Shiraz, as you will save a 1,000-kilometer journey.

Map of the two-week Iran backpacking itinerary

Day 8, 9 – Yazd

With its perfectly-shaped old city, cute mosques, souvenir shops and plenty of decent coffee places, Yazd is, by far, the most touristic city in Iran. It reminded me a lot of Khiva in Uzbekistan.

With tens of tour groups overrunning the magnificent narrow alleys of the old town, to be very honest, I am not the biggest fan of Yazd but, truth be said, it is a very beautiful city and, perhaps, the most photogenic in the country.

Moreover, I also liked Yazd because it is a nice place to chill out. After hectic travels and hard-backpacking, it is always nice to finally be in a place where you are just one more tourist, find good accommodation, coffee and loads of food choices.

So yeah, I actually enjoyed Yazd and it should be a must on any Iran itinerary.

This used to be a Silk Road trading town, so there is a lot of heritage dating from that period. The coolest thing to do in Yazd is get lost in the old city, while you check the wind-towers and stumble across the different sites and mosques, the most remarkable being Masjed e-Jameh, a mosque from the 15th century and one of the tallest in Iran, with 48-meter minarets.

At sunset, you must go to a rooftop to enjoy the views. There are many hotels and cafés that allow you to do that.

Some places will charge you 1€, while in others you just need to order something. I can’t recommend anyone in particular because all of them have different views and perspectives but Orient Hotel is a popular spot.

Moreover, just outside of the old city, you find the Amir Chakhmaq complex, the famous three-storey facade building and the main landmark in the city.

Also, you should know that Yazd has the second largest population of Zoroastrians, a religion that dates back at least 4,000 years and was the official religion in the pre-Islamic Persian Empire.

Here, they have one of their holiest sites, the Fire Temple, which has a flame which they claim hasn’t stopped burning since the 5th century.

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Iran travel itinerary
The views from somewhere in Yazd – Iran travel itinerary

Where to stay in Yazd

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Budget Hostel – Shahdad – The only real backpacker hostel in town, this traditionally decorated hostel is the best option for budget travelers.

Mid-range Hotel – Moshir al Mamalek Garden Hotel – You will love this place. A building with real wind towers, many travelers claim that this the best hotel they ever stayed in Iran.

For more options: Click here to check all the available hotels in Yazd

How to get to Yazd from Esfahan

Esfahan to Yazd is a good 4 to 5-hour ride and buses run frequently.

Iran itinerary 8 days
Jameh mosque in Yazd – Iran itinerary 8 days

Day 10, 11, 12 – The desert of the Kaluts

In Kerman province, quite far away from everything, you find the Kaluts, the most silent and remote desert I have ever been to.

Here, NASA registered the highest temperature ever found on the Earth’s surface (71ºC) so, if possible, try not to come in summer. Nevertheless, the temperature cools down exponentially in the evening, so you should be fine for the sunset.

Life is not possible in the Kaluts, not even microorganisms, but its beauty and sunsets are out of this world, similar to the Mars landscape so, if you are fancying some desert adventure, this is the place to go.

If you have time, you can also visit Kerman city, as well as Shazdeh Garden and Shah Nematollah Vali Shrine. These sites are quite off the beaten track and the people in Kerman are always happy to meet foreigners.

The closest settlement to the Kaluts is an oasis town named Shahdad, famous for its date plantations, handicrafts made of palm trees, lovely traditional guesthouses and desert fortresses.

For more information, read my guide: A trip to the desert of the Kaluts

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Iran independent travel
Me, somewhere in the Kaluts playing with my drone – Iran independent travel

Where to stay in the Kaluts

You can camp if you go on a pre-arranged tour but, if not, you can stay at the nearest village called Shahdad. There is a very budget guest house called Ab Anbar and a fancier one named Nebka. Both are nice.

How to get to the Kaluts from Yazd

If you are traveling independently in Iran, first, you need to go to Kerman city, which is around 400km from Yazd. It is quite a journey, so I recommend you take an overnight bus (or train).

Shahdad is 100km from Kerman and a taxi would roughly cost 850,000IR.

Typical handicrafts from Shahdad

Day 13, 14 – Shiraz

I love Shiraz.

Actually, I stayed here for 10 days, mainly because I was doing a project for a company but I enjoyed my time very much.

For some reason which I don’t know, the people from Shiraz are very open-minded, more than other cities in Iran. Actually, I drank more alcohol here than anywhere else in the country.

One day, one guy invited me to his house at 9:30am in the morning and gave me some shots of arak. It was a nice feeling to wander around Shiraz a bit tipsy after that.

There are also a lot of things to do in Shiraz, like visiting Vakil mosque, Nasir al-Molk, the famous mosque with the famous color effect from the sun rays; the ancient Vakil Bazaar, the less-visited, but outstanding, Shrine of Shah-e Cheragh and Hazfez Tomb and, of course, the ancient Persepolis, the ruins of what used to be the center of one of the greatest empires that ever existed.

For more information, read my guide: Things to do in Shiraz

Day trips from Shiraz

To visit these places, you will have to add 1 or 2 additional days for each one to your original Iran itinerary.

Clerics at the tomb of Hafez

Where to stay in Shiraz

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Backpacker Hostel – Taha Traditional Hostel – A real backpacker hostel, very well-located and great traveling atmosphere. Highly recommended! 

Boutique Hotel – Niayesh – The busiest hotel in town, where everybody stays, from backpackers to wealthy couples and tour groups. Breakfast is included and it has several outdoor areas where you can rest and get some food.

For more options: Click here to see all the available hotels in Shiraz

How to get to Shiraz from Kerman

It’s a 7 or 8-hour trip, so I strongly recommend taking a night bus.

Getting out of Shiraz

You can take a direct bus to Tehran, no problem, but if you want to save time, consider flying.

Inside Shrine of Imamzadeh-ye Ali Ebn-e Hamze

Independent travel to Iran – 3-week Iran itinerary

If you have an extra week for independent travel in, consider getting off the beaten track, so I suggest you visit Golestan province and Mashhad.

This is just my personal opinion but the truth is that I really loved these places. Let me tell you why.

Map of the 3-week travel itinerary to Iran

Day 15, 16 – Mashhad

There are two reasons to visit Mashhad:

One is to visit the Imam Reza Shrine and the other is to stay at Vali’s.

As you may know, Mashhad is the holiest place in Iran and one of the most important cities for Shia Muslims in the world. The reason is that the shrine is where Imam Reza rests, the 8th Imam of Twelver Shiïtes.

The shrine is the largest religious complex in the world and, when you step in, it is easy to understand why. It is f*** huge and you will lose count of all the courtyards and different mosques.

Cameras in Mashhad
The only downside is that you can’t take in a professional camera but only your phone. I didn’t know that and had to leave my camera and tripod at the entrance and didn’t have battery on my phone, so no pictures for me. Moreover, if they see you are a foreigner, they will assign you a guide, which kind of sucked as well, because mine didn’t explain anything to me but just made me follow him. You can, however, sneak in easily.

As the top pilgrimage site in the country, Mashhad is a wealthy city with great tourism infrastructure, as it receives loads of pilgrims from Lebanon and Iraq, two countries with large Shia populations.

There is a modern metro line and plenty of different food options, including Lebanese restaurants.

The second reason to come is to stay at Vali’s. Vali has a family homestay that, for years, has hosted plenty of international travelers, especially overlanders going (or coming) from Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.

I stayed 4 days at his house as the only guest and we celebrated the Iranian New Year, ate great homemade food and they just took very good care of me.

Besides, he has plenty of stories to tell, is very talkative and can you take outside of the city for day trips.

Visit Vali’s website for more details.

Imam Reza shrine – Photo by Bruno Vanbesien

Best day trips from Mashaad

I recommend you go to Kang, a traditional stepped village 50km from Mashhad. It’s very beautiful to see and there are some small trekking opportunities around the area.

To go there, take the Metro Line 1 to Vakilabad and then a bus or shared taxi. Additionally, a trip by taxi from the city center with 1-hour visit costs 600,000IR.

Where to stay in Mashhad

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Budget Homestay – Vali’s – Like I said, staying at Vali’s is one of the best things to do in Iran. Visit his website for more information.

Mid-range – Darvishi Royal Hotel – Vali’s is great but it’s a place for budget backpackers. If you wanna stay in a good hotel, this is one of the best options in town. 

How to get to Mashhad

Being the most visited city in the country, you can get here on a direct bus or train from anywhere in Iran, including Shiraz, if you are following the suggested itinerary.

The only downside is that Mashhad is really far away, no matter where you are, so if don’t have much time, consider flying in. I personally went by train from Bandar Abbas and it was a 23-hour journey.

Kang, Mashhad
The village of Khan

Day 17, 18 – Gonvad e-Kavus

Gonvad e-Kavus is the main city in Golestan province, one of the least visited provinces in Iran but, controversially, the most beautiful.

I bet that you didn’t know that this province is home to the largest population of Turkmens, the actual people from Turkmenistan. This means that, in Golestan, there is a clear Central Asian culture, visible in their food, nomadic life and Mongolian features.

In Gonvad-e Kavus you find a UNESCO World Heritage site (a 72-meter tower), handicraft shops selling traditional Turkmen products and is the gateway to some of the most striking scenery in the whole country.

Golestan is the ultimate destination for independent travel to Iran.

For more information, read my travel guide to Golestan

Where to stay in Gonvad e-Kavus

There are very few options and your best bet will be staying in Hotel Ajam or Couchsurfing.

How to get to Gonvad e-Kavus from Mashhad

You should take a night bus. It’s an 8-hour journey.

The UNESCO World Heritage tower

Day 19, 20 – Khalid Nabi

Also located in Golestan, Khalid Nabi is the most stunning site I visited in my Iran itinerary, and not for the site itself but because it is located in the most epic spot ever.

Basically, Khalid Nabi is a cemetery where a pre-Islamic prophet and his followers are buried. The prophet is buried inside a cute building, whereas all his followers are found under some penis-shaped rocks.

The bigger the penis is, the older the man when he died. If you see a cross-shaped rock, it means that the person buried is a woman.

The archaeological is not the only reason to come but the landscape is absolutely gorgeous and the area is filled with small Turkmen villages and nomadic yurt camps.

Fucking epic Khalid Nabi

Where to stay in Khalid Nabi

If you want to experience the real Turkmen and Central Asian culture, I recommend you stay in Tamer-e Qarah Quzi, a village 35km before from Khalid Nabi. Here, there is a homestay run by Naim and his family, a Turkmen family that will bless you with their hospitality.

Besides, Naim can also take you for some trekking and visit nomadic camps.

Highly recommended!

How to get to Khalid Nabi and Tamer-e Qarah Quzi

To go to Tamer, you have to get a local shared taxi to Kalaleh (40,000IR) and, from there, a second one to Tamer (40,000IR). Khalid Nabi is just 35km away from Tamer but the road is really bumpy so it takes around 1.5h.

A round-trip by taxi costs 400,000IR. I hitchhiked and was picked up by some Iranians from Tehran who were drinking vodka in the car. It was pretty cool.

Remember that, for more information, read my guide to Golestan province

Iran landscape
Fucking epic landscape in Golestan

Iran independent travel – 1-month Iran itinerary

If you have a full month, consider adding the Persian Gulf Island and the north-west to your Iran itinerary.

Map of the 30-day travel itinerary to Iran

Qeshm Island – 3 extra days from Shiraz

Note – You should come here after Shiraz.

If you wanna taste the Persian Gulf culture, I suggest you add Qeshm Island to your Iran itinerary.

The Persian Gulf culture is the traditional culture from Oman, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and, of course, south Iran. This culture, however, is fasting disappearing in the Arab countries but, fortunately, not in Qeshm.

The inhabitants of Qeshm are Sunni Wahabis, the most conservative branch of Islam. The most surprising thing is the way local women dress, in such colorful abayas and wearing some strange masks. It may seem a bit intimidating but they are actually quite laid-back and you can take photos of them, no problem.

Qeshm is also famous for its geology, consisting of strange rock formations. To see this, go at sunset to Star Valley.

I also suggest you visit the Shib Deraz and the Sea Turtle Breeding Area, Hengam Island, Laft and, of course, try the local food, which consists of spiced seafood.

You can also take a ferry to Hormuz Island, which leaves every day at 9am and 2pm. I personally didn’t go but I have been told that it is a beautiful island.

The only downside of Qeshm Island is that, for people who travel independently in Iran, the public transportation options are scarce.

For more information, read my travel guide to Qeshm Island

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Women in Qeshm

Where to stay in Qeshm Island

I recommend you pick one place and do day trips from there.

I personally pitched my tent in Shib Deraz beach but there are a few good options to stay around the island.

In Qeshm, there are some nice hotels and, if you want to stay somewhere remote, stay in Sar Rig Village, at Asad’s Homestay.

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How to get to Qeshm Island from Shiraz

From Shiraz, you need to take a bus to Bandar Abbas (8 hours, 500km).

Once in Bandar Abbas, go to the ferry terminal. Boats leave every half an hour (150,000IR).

People in Qeshm wear similar clothes to the people from the Arab Gulf countries

Masuleh – 3 extra days from Tehran

Masuleh is the most famous stepped mountain village in Iran.

However, being the most famous means that it gets a mix of different opinions and feelings.

The most voracious travelers will tell you not to go because it gets swamped with local tourists, souvenir shops, and pricey restaurants, whereas the rest will tell you that it is a lovely village and you must go.

In my opinion, both are kind of wrong. On the one hand, it is true that Masuleh gets all the attention from all the travel guides and this is because it is actually very cute and has a developed tourist infrastructure.

On the other hand, despite being very touristic, most tourists just remain in the village, without knowing that Masuleh is surrounded by some of the most awesome mountains in the country, composed of lush, green plains and remote shepherd huts, which offer amazing trekking opportunities.

I went trekking myself and didn’t bump into absolutely anyone. So yeah, I think that you should definitely come.

For more information, read my travel guide to Masuleh

The actual village

Where to stay in Masuleh

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I stayed in a random homestay and you can do the same because there are many but they can’t be booked online. 

If you are looking for comfort, Aram Hotel seems like a popular mid-range option.

How to get to Masuleh from Tehran

You need to first go to Fuman, which takes 4 hours from Tehran. Masuleh is 34km from Fuman and private taxis cost 300,000-400,000IR. Local shared taxis leave from a station 3km from the main bus station and they cost 100,000-150,000IR.

Additionally, if you don’t find buses to Fuman, you can also go to Rasht, which is a bigger city very close to Fuman.

Epic shepherd, epic hut

Tabriz – 3 extra days from Masuleh

The city where the famous Persian carpets come from and where you find the largest covered bazaar in the world, Tabriz is a real off the beaten track city and, practically, the only visitors are overlanders coming from the Caucasus countries.

The bazaar has been listed as a UNESCO Heritage site so, if you are into bazaars, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Tabriz also has some very friendly people who haven’t been spoiled by mass tourism yet, so people are quite a highlight, as well. Don’t forget to visit the Blue Mosque, even though due to an earthquake, it still undergoing a long restoration process.

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Tabriz Bazaar – Photo by FocuzKanpo

Best day trip from Tabriz: Kandovan

I also suggest you go to Kandovan, often called the little Cappadoccia, a very peculiar cave city easily reachable from Tabriz. You can book you

For this, you should first take a bus to Osku, which shouldn’t cost more than 40,000IR. Then, a taxi to Kandovan would cost 200,000IR roughly.

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Where to stay in Tabriz

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Budget Hotel – Ramsar Guest House – Cheap accommodation for backpackers. (online booking not available)

Mid-range Hotel – Tabriz el Goli Pars – Nothing fancy but good quality service according to its price range.


How to get to Tabriz from Masuleh or Tehran

If you are in Masuleh, you should go to the city of Rasht, where you may find direct buses.

If you are in Tehran, take an overnight bus because it is a very long way. They leave daily.

Kandovan – Photo by Sebastien Michel

More resources for independent travel in Iran

📢 In my Travel Resources Page you can find the list of all the sites and services I use to book hotels, tours, travel insurance and more.

Remember to always use my code – From booking a hotel to visa services, travel insurance and tours, if it is via 1stQuest, remember that you can use my 5% discount code, as many as you want, whenever you want: ATC-QST

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Iran itinerary


Hello Joan, how are you?
Just discovered your website today and I have to say that this is the most useful blog I have ever visited 🙂
I have a question. I have 3 weeks in Iran and besides doing the classic itinerary from Tehran to Shiraz I also want to visit one of the less visited places you recommend.
I can’t decide between Kurdistan and Golestan. Which one would you go with?
Thank you in advance

Hey man! That’s a very hard question to answer! It really depends on what you like. To be honest, I haven’t visited much of Kurdistan, as I just passed through on my way to Iraq and spent less than 24 hours, but I traveled in Golestan extensively and i loved it because my Turkmenistan visa was denied in the past and Golestan is the closest place in the world to Turkmenistan, as most people there are ethnically and culturally like the Central Asian country.
Kurdistan is also great, but I had already visited Iraqi Kurdistan before, so I preferred spending more time in Golestan

Having spent quite a bit of time in Iran over the years, I applaud your effort in promoting travels in this lovely country with exceptionally friendly people.

I would highly recommend your blog to friends who are planning to visit and so wish this was available when I was there.

Great job and keep up with the good work. Thank you!!!!

I really miss Iran, thanks for compiling some of the best things about it and putting it out there 🙂

Hello friend
very compelete useful guide which encourage me (as an iranian & travel lover) to start visiting my country again, if this COVID-19 let us. I,ve visited most of the famous places when i was a kid with my family and i think a majority of them most be re-visited since i coudnt remember as well as your descriptions
BTW, we pronounce that city in Golestan as Gonbad e-Kavus (NOT GonVad) and its not the main city of Golestan altough a large one (main is Gorgan)

Hello Joan.
Thank you for your blog.
I see you used a drone while in Iran. I thought they were banned. Would you mind to explain how you did?

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